How to Cross the Bitter Root Mountains of Despair

by Bill Peters

Principle 3- Consciously choose to commit all my life and will to Christ’s care and control.

“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth” Matthew 5:5

Deadly Crossing: The Bitterroots
August 25-October 07, 1805
Snow began to fall as the expedition set off for the Continental Divide. Game was scarce in the Rockies, and food supplies ran low. But finally the expedition reached the divide and passed over the other side, down into the Bitterroot Valley. There the Americans met a band of Flathead Indians and bought more horses for the journey across the Bitterroot Mountains. Crossing this range of the Rockies fully tested the expedition’s endurance. After 11 days in the Bitterroots, the horses were near starvation, the men—who resorted to eating three of the colts—not much better. Emerging from the mountains, they made contact with the Nez Perce and procured from them dried fish and roots. The captains then set up camp on the banks of the Clearwater River, a branch of the Snake River, itself a branch of the mighty Columbia. There they hollowed five dugouts. The Rockies were behind them, the Pacific in front. On October 7 they broke camp and started down the Clearwater. At last the expedition had a river’s current at its back. (excerpts of the chronicles of Lewis and Clark)

I love the mountains and valleys of Montana. My friends and family know that I have a fondness for the beautiful area that God has created and fashioned around Glacier National Park and the Bitterroot Mountains. The Bitterroot Mountains fascinate me because they are sometimes called the mountains of despair. There is a bit of history about the expedition that Lewis and Clark led and their struggles in crossing the Bitterroot Mountains in the early 1800s.  Their difficulties help me see my need for the Lord Jesus in the despair of life’s troublesome issues. It teaches me the importance of committing my life to Jesus Christ found in Principle 3 of Celebrate Recovery.

When a person’s life burdens become insurmountably heavy, and his or her personal struggles stop them in their path of life and they see nothing but a life of pain, disappointment and death, they may be ready to get help. A person may finally become willing to let someone else do the navigating and driving. Lewis and Clark were stuck trying to cross the Bitterroot Mountains of Montana including the peak called “El Capitan” in the early 1800’s. In their expedition across Montana they finally found help and support from native Indians who knew the land and offered them food.

Celebrate Recovery offers help to those crossing the bitter roots of life’s circumstances because of hurts, habits and hangups. It emphasizes the need for a spiritual commitment and friendship to Jesus Christ as the remedy that is needed. Jesus has the required and necessary support and the spiritual food that you and I need to cross the bitterroot mountains of life. There is no other way to climb over the “Capitan” of sin other than to know the “El Capitan” who is greater named Jesus Christ.

Many people do not understand that putting off the decision to accept Jesus Christ as their Higher Power, as their Lord and as their Savior, is really a choice to remain stuck in the mountains of despair. Until one has the will power to choose to accept God’s power through Jesus they will remain stuck.   Lasting recovery and healing just cannot happen without the Lord’s help. Isn’t it time you sought help through your bitter root mountains? Try coming on Monday night to North Boulevard Church of Christ and meet us in the Filling Station for Celebrate Recovery. You will find help and encouragement to commit your life to Jesus.

 El Capitan in the Bitterroot Mountains of Montana



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